here was a time when—and that time was not so very long ago—a visit to Steveston Village meant crisp-from-the-deep-fryer fish and chips or, if you were feeling fancy, some pan-seared salmon or halibut. The fish couldn’t have been fresher, but the selection was, well, a bit limited.
How things have changed. This fishing village at the mouth of the Fraser River is still the best place to enjoy the daily catch, but there’s a lot more on the menu than fried cod.
“The shops and eateries in Steveston have better variety than ever,” says Allan Yeo, who owns Hog Shack Cook House and Kove Kitchen with his wife Jennifer Russell. “There is now something for everyone, and the summers have so many activities and events going on.”
Nutcha Phanthoupheng, executive chef at the white-tablecloth Thai restaurant Baan Lao, agrees. “Like any fishing village, Steveston is known for fish and chips—but there is such a wide array of restaurant options available,” she says. “It’s much more cosmopolitan in its offerings than people may think.”
Today Steveston serves up a world of cuisines. You can graze on sushi, pizza, and tacos as well as Malaysian rendang and Persian kebabs, Vietnamese pho, American BBQ, and Ukrainian cabbage rolls. A word of advice: arrive hungry.
Perched on the southwest tip of Lulu Island, Steveston is bordered by the Fraser River to the south and by the Salish Sea to the west. Richmond’s sleek, modern towers shimmer just a few blocks north, but once you’re in the village, they feel like a world away.
Steveston is all historic charm, with a rugged seafaring vibe that dates back to the 1880s—when it had so many salmon canneries it was nicknamed “Salmonopolis.” Fortunately, the quaint turn-of-the-century community that grew up around those canneries has largely been preserved,
making this both a popular filming location and tourist destination. But this is also still Canada’s largest fishing port where, depending on the season, seafood lovers can buy salmon, halibut, or spot prawns right off the boat at Fisherman’s Wharf.
Better yet, swing by one of the many, many seafood restaurants located along the scenic waterfront, ranging from the casual Pajo’s (in case you really need those fish and chips) to the elegant Blue Canoe. One of the very best ways to enjoy the daily catch is at one of several excellent Japanese restaurants, such as Mega Sushi, which boasts some of the most over-the-top rolls in the Lower Mainland, or Ichiro Japanese Restaurant, which serves up an authentic washoku experience.
Of course, seafood isn’t everything here. This is also farm country, and plenty of local fruit and vegetables land on local menus, as well.
Those menus cover the globe, from Italy and Greece across Asia and through the Americas—especially at the eclectic Kove Kitchen. This casual waterside eatery offers butter chicken poutine; a knockout Cobb salad; southern fried chicken; cabbage rolls; and several styles of burgers. “All of our burgers are awesome,” Yeo says. That’s because the beef is ground in-house and served on a German pretzel bun, ideally alongside one of the restaurant’s many craft beers. (Speaking of craft beer, Steveston is home to Five Roads Brewing and Britannia Brewing, both worth a visit.)
Just a short stroll along the waterfront from Kove Kitchen is Baan Lao, where chef Phanthoupheng crafts some of the most elegant Thai cuisine in Canada. Raised in rural Thailand, she has fallen in love with Steveston.
“The proximity to the water helps provide fresh, clean air; a wonderful fresh breeze; and freshly-caught fish, of course,” Phanthoupheng says. “And with so many organic farms and farmers’ markets around Steveston, I’m able to shop locally for fresh, organic produce to feed my family and our restaurant guests.”
Simply the best
In a 2020 CBC poll, Steveston was voted Metro Vancouver’s best neighbourhood, and it’s easy to see why. It’s an urban community with a friendly, small-town feel that’s attracting both young families and retirees, its growing population accommodated by a recent surge in development.
“Steveston is such a beautiful place and ideal for raising my two young daughters,” says Phanthoupheng. “All the amenities are here, including sports and creative activities for my children, and it’s easy to walk around. It has all the benefits of city living, but with a small-town feel.”
Residents love it, but visitors do, too: they come for the boardwalk, the heritage sites, charming boutiques, waterfront patios, and the annual Steveston Salmon Festival, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary on July 1, 2022. “Everything here is walkable. Steveston delivers a true day-out experience: by the beach, around amazing parks, with access to restaurants and cafes and lots of shopping,” Yeo says. “We love being in such a unique and equally beautiful corner of the world where there is so much history.”
So, sure: visit Steveston for the fish and chips. But stay for everything else.